PRODUCT LEADER AND CONSULTANT

WHO I AM

My Journey as a Product Person began as a product manager in 2008 when I discovered the opportunity to build a payments platform for the underbanked using a sound-based contactless transaction technology for a company called TagPay (think Apple pay for 1990s flip phones). I’ve since joined the early teams of several startups including Betterment, Current and Pattern, helping them to launch and iterate towards product-market fit. 

 

In 2016 I joined Pivotal Labs, a software development consultancy known for helping clients learn XP, lean and agile methodologies. Pivotal gave me the opportunity to hone my skills around product discovery and development by helping a wide variety of clients learn and apply these practices in their organizations. At Pivotal I worked with clients including JPMC, Fiserv, Travelers and the US Air Force which gave me a window into the challenges faced by larger organizations looking to transition from antiquated approaches to best practices in software development. I continue consulting today for ProdUX labs and Def Method. 

 

I love working with talented designers and engineers to bring bold ideas to fruition. My skill set is a combination of product management, growth strategy, UX design, and user research. I particularly enjoy translating qualitative and quantitative data into ideas for new or better products and finding clever ways to de-risk those ideas. 

 

I’ve embraced a human-centric approach to product that leverages research, analytics, and well-designed experiments to discover, test and iterate. I studied Mind Brain and Behavior psychology at Harvard and spent a lot of my time there as a researcher for the Spelke lab for developmental studies. In that role I designed, ran and analyzed experiments on babies to deepen our understanding of how they perceive and interact with their social environments. My commitment to rigorous research and experimentation began there and I launched my career in tech with the conviction that a deep understanding of humans is the basis for building great products.  

 

In my free time you can find me hiking or skiing in the Hudson Valley, making jewelry and other art projects, cooking, and spending time with friends and family. 

Interested in trading war stories or learning more about my work? 

Or drop me an email: isabelle@defmethod.com

WHY I LOVE PRODUCT

Truly deep customer development

My background is in psychology and I am a naturally empathetic person. I love developing a deep understanding of end users and leveraging both qualitative and quantitative insights to drive product decisions and build a user experience that is intuitive and delightful.

 

Evangelizing

If I am managing a product it is because I feel absolutely passionate about it. I use that passion to align stakeholders and get buy in from team members on product decisions. I also like to promote and represent the product externally and use those opportunities to continually keep a beat on the competition and market.

 

Being logical and data-driven

I make decisions based on thorough and sound logic, backed by hard numbers whenever possible. Whether I am winnowing down requirements for an MVP or prioritizing a longer-term product road map I want my team to understand the rationale behind decisions and feel empowered to ask questions and debate.

Focusing on business value

I understand and never lose sight of bigger picture business objectives. I work to tactfully negotiate the tradeoffs between customer requests, technical feasibility, and business value and love to come up with innovative initiatives that strike the right balance between those. 

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ON THE JOB

Presenting at MMT

Presenting at MMT

I was invited to speak about the role of retail in the mobile money ecosystem. In this presentation I illustrated the concept of "cashless money transfer" and highlighted the ways in which mobile payments at a point of sale fundamentally changed the business model.

TagPay in Bamako, Mali

TagPay in Bamako, Mali

We built out the original TagPay user experience and POC by examining the Paris-Bamako remittance scenario and partnering with a handful of merchants to test out our hypothesis that migrants would prefer to send money home via TagPay because their loved ones would then be able to spend that money directly in stores without having to withdraw cash. In this photo I am observing one of the first transactions made in a pharmacy and trying to identify frictions in the user experience.

Defining the UX for TagPay Mali

Defining the UX for TagPay Mali

I worked closely with Malian migrants in a community center in Montreuil, Paris to arrive at this early mockup of the user experience. We wanted to build an interface that felt local and gave the sender visibility into the details of the transaction. In user interviews we often heard concerns about the recipient not knowing that the money was from the sender. We added a SMS that the sender could customize to address this need.

Mobile Payment Terminal

Mobile Payment Terminal

Our original vision for the TagPay user experience in a store was that the merchants would use their own phones to accept payments. This meant that there was no hardware to deploy and virtually zero installation cost. I quickly learned that merchants wanted a "terminal". "I'm not going to wave my phone around like a clown," one merchant explained. So we built a plastic box and put an inexpensive Nokia inside with a simple java applet to accept payments. The merchants were delighted...

TagPay Team in 2012

TagPay Team in 2012

This is the fantastic team that I had the pleasure of working with for 5 years.

Transaction Revenue Simulator

Transaction Revenue Simulator

One of the main bottlenecks preventing our prospects from converting to customers was the challenge that they faced in making a business case around mobile money. I worked closely with a set of these customers to understand the sort of business plan that they needed to be able to make a case for buying TagPay. I then came up with a product plan and built out a Transaction Revenue Simulator. I tested early versions with customers and focused on making the user experience as easy as possible.

Ludacris at Betterment

Ludacris at Betterment

Luda visited Betterment frequently and made my filing cabinet her home there. She enjoyed attending standup with the other office dogs, keeping the kitchen free of crumbs, and bringing joy to the office humans.

My daughter in Buzzfeed

My daughter in Buzzfeed

When we launched Pattern Anne Helen Peterson wrote a buzzfeed article about our company's mission to combat burnout. My daughter was included in the article, illustrating Pattern's inclusive culture and dedication to work-life balance.

CONTACT ME

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© 2020 by Isabelle Berner